REVIEW: Tonight Alive, Young Guns, Totally Unicorn @ The Patch

Click for our photo gallery from the gig

Words by David Young

Given the fact they’ve managed to pack out the Patch in their own regard previously, it’s no surprise that an enthusiastic batch of early birds leapt at the chance to see Austinmer’s finest Totally Unicorn set off the evening’s proceedings. Basically everything one has come to expect from the band’s live show is present and accounted for, from Drew Gardner’s snow angel in the middle of the dancefloor to his theft of Mike Bennett’s hi-hat at the set’s conclusion. Just because you know what to expect, though, certainly doesn’t mean that the band are prone to put on a boring show. They are the kind of live band in which you only get out what you put in – so uncross those arms and expose some wizards.

Having Totally Unicorn as your opening act is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it sets the energy and entertainment levels at a remarkable high for the rest of the evening. Conversely, that also means that the acts that follow will have great difficulty clearing the bar that’s been set – such is the case with Londonite pop-punks Young Guns. Although putting on a technically proficient set, their Jimmy Eat World-flavoured and radio-friendly take on heavy guitar pop cohesively delivered , the band struggled to maintain the interest of most of the audience. With their star on the rise in their native U.K., it’s clear that the band is used to not only playing to a much bigger crowd, but a much younger demographic. Not a bad performance, but certainly not a gripping one.

A layered build-up eventually brought all five members of Tonight Alive onstage to tear straight into album cut “Listening,” which quickly got the audience heaving towards the front and shouting along to the song’s irrepressible hook. Although the show was not a sell out, there was ample energy within the room to carry the early part of the band’s set, complete with older favourites such as “Wasting Away” and “Revenge and Its Thrills.” The band are at a point where they have a very clear idea of how to run their live shows, taking both dynamics and a flourish of theatricality into consideration. This has its good and bad points – although the band are hugely confident and certainly engaging in their live show, at times it felt like Groundhog Day to the band themselves. A rough new song, “Breakdown,” didn’t help the mid-set slump any further; presenting a tepid chorus and a poorly transitioned key-change.

Still, when the band launched into the grand finale of “Breaking and Entering,” there was no time for cynicism. There were stage-dives to be had and big sing-alongs to be sung, after all. Perhaps inhibitions and cynicism should be best left at the door in order to properly enjoy what Tonight Alive have to offer. It’s up to you.

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